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Public Education

North Andover Fire Department Public Education Officer: FF Matt Davis

The North Andover Fire Department Public Education Program is funded entirely by the Massachusetts SAFE program at the Department of Fire Services. Grant money is distributed to each community depending on the size and population.

Grades K-3 are our main focus within the elementary schools. North Andover currently has 5 elementary schools with a total of apx. 2100 students and 1 private school. We also have one middle school (grades 6-8, apx. 1100 student) and a high school (grades 9-12, apx. 1470 students). During the prom season we will conduct a mock car accident with the NAPD to show the dangers of distracted or drunk driving.  

Core mission of the S.A.F.E. program:

The Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) program is a fire prevention education program designed to equip elementary, intermediate, and high school students with skills for recognizing the dangers of fire, including the fire risks posed by smoking-related materials. The program utilizes specially trained firefighters to teach fire and life safety education. Many of the firefighters are trained emergency medical technicians who have seen the catastrophic health effects of smoking-induced illnesses.

The S.A.F.E. educator serves as a role model for impressionable youth while providing students with firsthand knowledge of the dangers associated with fire, age-appropriate information on preventing and surviving those fires that occur, and through a core school-based program, affect a change in the behavior and the safety of the community at large.

The S.A.F.E. Program is designed to create a partnership between the school and fire department. Working jointly to reach the goals and objectives of the state’s Curriculum Frameworks and the Common Core of Learning, firefighters teach the Key Fire Safety Behaviors using the Massachusetts Public Fire and Life Safety Education Curriculum Planning Guidebook and model teamwork for the students.

The key fire safety behaviors that we address are kitchen safety, cooking safety, use of 911, stop-drop-cover-roll, having a meeting place, and smoking/matches/lighter safety. During our fire safety house visit we discuss fireplace safety in depth. We also discuss who should be lighting the fire and why it is dangerous to be around/near lighters and matches. We also discuss smoking hazards and how it is dangerous in many ways. We ask the students what they would do if they found matches/lighter and try to instill in them that they are not toys to be played with.

Benefits of public fire education:

  • Training children reduces anxiety levels so they are able to react to stressful situations
  • Fire, School, Health and Police Departments working together to help children survive
  • Family medical and health care cost reductions
  • Firefighter as a role model
  • Fires, burns and deaths reduced

Core mission of the Senior S.A.F.E. program:

The Senior SAFE program is a fire prevention education program designed to improve the fire and life safety of older adults in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through education that addresses the unique fire risks for this age group. Some of the risks include smoking, home oxygen use, cooking, electrical and heating dangers. The program utilizes specially trained firefighters to teach fire and life safety education. Many of the firefighters are trained emergency medical technicians who have seen the catastrophic health effects of smoking-induced illnesses and the dangers of fire associated with home medical oxygen use.

Senior SAFE aims to improve the safety of older adult homes. Programs may include the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, testing and replacing batteries in these devices, the installation and checking of house numbers, installing high-end heat limiting devices on stoves, in-hood stove fire extinguishers, nightlights, and other fall prevention interventions where needed to provide safety for the at-risk older adult population in the community. In addition to installing safety devices, education specific to their circumstances is a crucial component of improving the safety of older adults at home.

The Senior SAFE educator serves as a community leader who can provide firsthand knowledge of the dangers associated with fire, age-appropriate information on preventing and surviving those fires that occur, and affect a change in the behavior of older adults.

The Senior SAFE Program is designed to create a partnership between older adults and fire departments through established providers of senior support services such as Councils on Aging, Senior Centers, Visiting Nurse Associations, or other similar agencies.

How is S.A.F.E. Funded?

The S.A.F.E. Program has been in existence since FY '96. During the first seven years, S.A.F.E. was funded by the tobacco tax, better known as the Health Protection Fund, because smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths. It is currently funded by a state appropriation from general revenue funds distributed by the Executive Office of Public Safety.

Key Fire Safety Behaviors:

There are 23 Key Fire Safety Behaviors that should be taught in age and developmentally appropriate ways, such as:

  • Stop, Drop, and Roll
  • Making and Practicing Home Escape Plans
  • Reporting Fires and Emergencies
  • Crawl Low Under Smoke
  • Smoke Detector Maintenance
  • Kitchen Safety
  • Holiday Safety and more

Child Fire Deaths Dropped 72% Since S.A.F.E. Started

The average annual number of fire deaths of children under age 18 has fallen by 72% since the start of the S.A.F.E. Program in the fall of 1995. Since fire death numbers fluctuate quite a bit from year to year, it is helpful to look both at the trend line in the graph below and at averages over several years.

During the 21 full years that the S.A.F.E. Program has been in effect, from 1995 to 2015 the average number of child fire deaths per year is 5.5. In the 14 years prior to the S.A.F.E. Program, 1981-1994, the average number of child fire deaths per year was 18.

Staff Contacts

Name Title Phone
Matthew Davis Firefighter/Public Education Officer (978) 688-9590